Is Using Old Exams Cheating

Is Using Old Exams Cheating

Can having access to past questions be seen as cheating? This is hotly debated in various online communities with the majority of voices supporting the use of past questions as a resource for exams preparation while a minority are against its usage.

After our analysis and research, we decided to write this article to answer this question once and for all. We’ve all been students and having access to resources to improve yourself and academic performance comes with the territory.

The relevance of study resources for students is evident in the growth of student resource platforms like Chegg and Course Hero. Students will do anything possible to acquire the necessary resources or help to succeed academically.

This sometimes causes people to wonder if using some of these resources constitutes cheating. Chegg, Course Hero, Quizlet, and other resource tools, for example, have become a source of concern as students are conflicted over their usage and whether it constitutes cheating.

Let’s dive right into why these separate opinions exist and then provide our final verdict on the topic.

Why Using Past Exams Constitutes Cheating

We’ll look at why some (both teachers and students) are of the opinion that using old exams constitutes cheating. While there may be differences in opinion, these differences are the result of individual experiences with their universities or educational institutions.

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School Regulations

Although district examinations may have general regulations, examinations conducted by individual educational institutions are subject to their policies and outlined disciplinary actions in case these regulations are breached.

Some schools institute policies around test papers and questions leaving the examination hall. Irrespective of their reasons for such a policy, students are expected to abide by these regulations to avoid disciplinary actions for breach.

Instructor Forbid Questions Leaving Exam Hall

Most schools have no regulations against students possessing past questions to previous examinations. However, some individual teachers have their own regulations against their test questions leaving the examination hall.

While the instructor may have their reasons for trying to keep past questions away from students, most reasons revolve around having to set new questions for subsequent tests.

From putting down a list of questions designed to test various aspects of student comprehension of learned concepts to creating a rubric for grading, preparing tests can be quite daunting.

It’s no surprise some instructors sometimes forbid students from leaving the examination hall with their test questions. Students caught in possession of these questions could then face disciplinary actions.

Enforcing this can sometimes be difficult as students in most cases would try to get their hands on the past questions to serve as a study resource.

It’s therefore advisable for instructors to design new questions for their students as opposed to simply recycling questions from previous tests.

Online Quizzes

Copying questions from an online learning quiz can be challenging especially in the middle of an examination. Instructors in online learning environments understand this as it serves as a deterrent to students copying questions.

While there may be ways around this, online instructors can simply leverage their question bank to easily populate and even randomize questions for students. Students taking the same test may receive different questions in these online learning environments.

Students who successfully identify means to obtain these questions risk being accused of cheating if they are discovered.

Why Using Past Exam Questions Do Not Constitute Cheating

Let’s take a look at the various reasons behind the opinion that access to old exams does not constitute cheating. Most of the opinions around this topic are centered around individual experiences with their educational institutions.

Let’s take a look at the reasons why accessing past questions is not cheating.

School Regulations

While a few educational institutions may have reservations against student access to and use of past questions, a huge majority of these institutions and instructors have no reservations against their students gaining access to past questions.

Some even encourage students to get access to these questions in order to leverage them as study resources. These institutions have no regulations against students using past questions making it legal for students to access and openly use the questions as study resources.

It’s necessary to identify your institution’s policies on this topic before acquiring these materials to avoid any negative consequences.

Instructor Permits Questions Leaving Exam Hall

If your instructor permits their test question scripts to leave the examination hall, it’s evident they have no reservations against students using these materials as study resources. These questions can be used by other students as study resources even outside the institution.

Instead of simply recycling questions, offline instructors sometimes resort to leveraging some percentage of previous questions from past exams while adding newer questions.

Online instructors on the other hand sometimes have an advantage as they’re able to leverage quiz applications and proctoring tools in their tests without students gaining access to the test questions on completion.

Posted On School’s Website

Some institutions make questions from past examinations available on their websites or an online platform to enable students to easily access and leverage them as study resources.

If your institution makes these questions available on their platform, it means they have no reservations against students accessing past questions. But rather, they promote student access to these questions by making them readily accessible to their students.

Turned Into Books

Teachers sometimes convert their previous questions and solutions into books for students to buy. This is a win-win scenario as teachers make additional revenue while gaining the satisfaction of helping their students.

Students also gain an invaluable resource with the assurance of quality answers to these questions as they’re provided by their instructor. Students actively buy such resources to aid them to gain a better understanding of concepts.

Some teachers go the distance by also providing a thorough explanation to each respective question in the book as opposed to a simple or summarized answer.

Is Using Old Exams Cheating

Now that we know why some institutions are against past questions while others encourage their use as study resources, let’s get to the bottom of the general question.

No. Most schools allow, if not encourage, students to use old exam questions as a study resource. Some schools and teachers, however, prohibit students from obtaining past questions and consider illegally obtained old exams to be a violation of the school’s academic honesty policy.

Can You Share Old Exams

Yes. If it’s not against your institution’s policy, your professor does not treat old exams as confidential or you obtained them through legal means, you can share old exams. While most educational institutions encourage students to use old exams as a study resource, it’s advisable to confirm with your professors before sharing.

In institutions where taking test questions outside the examination hall is forbidden, you should refrain from sharing any illegally acquired old exams to avoid breaching your institution’s academic honesty policies.

How To Find Professors Old Exams

If you’d like to find your professor’s old exams questions, it’s advisable to ask them first to ensure it’s not against the school’s policy to access past questions.

Most schools and professors make past questions available in their libraries, on their websites and other school platforms, and in textbooks sold by the professor.

Where Do Professors Get Their Exam Questions From

Professors leverage Test banks which comprise educational resources including possible test questions and answers provided by textbook publishers or found online.

However, it’s advisable to create unique questions to fit the evolving know-how, varying students, and the professor’s pedagogical style.

Do Professors Change Exams Every Semester

Yes. While professors may repeat a certain percentage of questions from previous semesters combined, they also include new questions in their examinations each semester.

Depending on the institution’s policy on students accessing old exams questions, students can leverage past test questions to better prepare for examinations.

On the off chance, there’s a professor who repeats the same questions each time, it’s advisable to refrain from acquiring their past questions as these would most likely be treated as confidential.

Akshay Vikhe

I am an aspiring Data Scientist with a huge interest in technology. I like to review courses that are genuine and add real value to student’s careers. Read my story

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